On a Spiritual Spectrum

In the previous post (On a Beach Walk: No. 12), I presented a continuum. No matter the topic, a continuum tries to categorize in order to show relationships. Positions are difficult because overlap exists between adjacent groups and each group can be subdivided into more specific smaller groups.

The continuum below is an attempt to show relationship around the topic of science and theology regarding evolution. It’s not perfect, but it illustrates different positions people hold, so it also stimulates thinking and serves as a point of discussion.

Defining each group is another important aspect. Although each definition below is far from complete, they provide a sense for each group’s position. On the other hand, representing all positions would be difficult.

Strong atheist: Lack the belief in any god and are fervently against religion.

Passive atheist: Lack the belief in any god, but are less antagonistic to religion – possibly tolerant.

Agnostic: A broad group including (but not limited to)

  • Those who don’t believe in any god because we cannot prove a deity’s existence or non-existence.
  • Those who simply don’t know about any god or don’t care to know.

Spiritual naturalist: A broad group including (but not limited to) two broad groups: religious naturalists and humanists – neither believing in a god or gods.

  • Religious naturalists see the meaning of life through the beauty and complexity of the natural world.
  • Humanists embrace reason and logic in order to emphasize a moral and ethical code for doing good in human society.

Spiritual non-theist: Religions that are spiritual, but without believing in a god or gods; such as Buddhists, Hindus, and others

Deist: God who is not linked to any religion is the creator, but does not intervene and is not personal because God has left the world. There are different types of Deists.

Theistic evolutionist: God is the creator. Scripture and nature in a collective relationship. A range of theistic evolutionist exist.

Progressive Creationists: God is the creator and the earth is very old. Two groups include

  • God created many species from which others evolved through mutation and selection
  • Intelligent Design: God creatively intervenes over time when necessary.

Young-Earth creationist: God is the creator, Earth is young, and a literal Genesis in today’s language explains creation.

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On a Beach Walk: No. 12

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I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

I think about a continuum of thought – one that I’ve encountered countless times over 8 years of personal study and reflections. A continuum containing a diversity of ideas, including the antagonistic polar opposites who only see their way – a way of being one of us or one of them – a shallow continuum of two.

I know where I lie on this continuum of thought, but not at either polarized end. Not only do I know my position between the continuum’s poles, I also know that there are others like me here. Interestingly those at the ends can’t justify our existence.

I see the antagonistic groups as the Blackhearts and the Righteous. Each acting as hooligans as they shout at each other and intimidate others. I see many others who wander as if they are lost because they don’t know. I invite them to have a seat to listen, but polar opposites are preying on the wanderers by saying they have to make a choice, which is really a forced choice. I try to provide a different perspective, but either the hooligans are too loud or the wanderers are either confused or won’t listen.

Some may be thinking I’m referencing Democrats and Republicans, but I am not because that’s too painful – perhaps another day. Today my thoughts are about the interchange of science and religion – an arena where the antagonistic foes force choices upon others – especially the vulnerable and the unknowing.

I am not vulnerable. I am not unknowing. I have a place and I can respectfully and confidently take while understanding the others. I also take my place knowing the difference between right/wrong and agree/disagree.

Finally I get someone to listen. They ask questions as if they don’t hear the shouting because they want to know where they belong. They want confirmation of something they wondered, but never heard.

The continuum is a lot to ponder as I walk – but I like to walk the beach for it is food for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On Aspects of Science

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Science – the search for the explanation of what we observe in nature.

Science – a body of organized knowledge that describes the properties and interactions of the material components of the universe.

Science – a human endeavor limited to the human perspective seeking to understand and explain phenomena occurring in the natural world and the laboratory.

Science – a dynamic (not static) intellectual human endeavor leading us to a deeper understanding of the natural world.

Science – an impersonal process requiring a trained mind with passion, imagination, and patience for details to find patterns, structure, connections, and history within nature.

Science – a data-gathering process so we can better understand ourselves, the natural world around us, and our place in this world.

Science – a process with accepted methodologies trained mind works uses while fighting misconceptions, mistaken observations, and inadequate conclusions.

Science – an intellectual activity using the senses and technology to extend the senses for gathering data to develop an explanation based on evidence and what is already known.

Science – a process and activity requiring a conscious mind that observes, inquires, organizes, interprets, understands, and a willingness to follow acceptable scientific methodologies while staying within nature’s boundaries – yet that does not mean that nothing exists outside of nature’s boundaries.

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Science – the study of the material, processes, and forces of the natural world.

Science – not a belief system, but a learning system involving the exploration of natural causes to explain natural phenomena through systemic processes and procedures.

Science – an empirical human endeavor by establishing questions of truth through experimenting and testing without absolutes while remaining open to retesting and reconsideration.

Science – a gift as it brings us new knowledge, yet knowledge that is only for a given point in time because it can change based on newer knowledge. Because of potential development of new knowledge, science must be willing to have what is currently known to be proven wrong.

Science – a system giving us gives theories: a structure of ideas based on large amounts of evidence that explain and interpret numerous facts about a concept – therefore, well beyond a personal opinion or a detective’s hunch.

Science – a habit of mind of careful sifting of data and withholding of final judgment.

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Science – a methodology that does not make moral, ethical, and value judgments for society because those judgments are made by society.

Science – a way of knowing, but not the only way because science does not corner the way to truth about everything. Philosophical, theological, psychological/emotional, ethical, political, and historical views provide additional perspectives, yet each discipline is selective and limited.

Science – an activity bringing forth new issues causing humanity to face moral and ethical questions – whose answers science does not provide because it is neither equipped nor competent to answer ethical and moral questions, let alone the metaphysical, philosophical, or theological questions as “what is the meaning of life”, “why am I here”, and “is there a god?”

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Science – a process with recognized limitations. Science does not state how to use its knowledge. Science does not make value judgments. Science is limited to studying in nature. Science is limited to our ability to observe, including technology’s limitations. Science does not operate outside of its defined methodologies.

Science – a study that is limited to itself. Science cannot prove or disprove God’s existence because that question/topic lies outside science’s self-imposed boundaries of the observable events in the natural world around us.

Science – a study that should be embraced by all.

On a Book Review about Yes

Because the interchange between science and religion is a hobby of mine, I’ve read my share of books and articles on the topic – so I recognize many of the leading names in the field. Dr. Denis Lamoureux is one of those authors, but I haven’t lamoureuxbookcoverread any of his work. That’s why I placed Evolution: Scripture and Nature Say Yes! on my reading list while snowbirding in warmer weather this past January.

Dr. Lamoureux is a Professor of Science and Religion at St. Joseph’s College in the University of Alberta. Interesting that some colleges have at least a designation of science and religion as a study.

In this book, Dr. Lamoureux incorporates the concept of the existence of two books: The Book of Word (Scripture) and the Book of Works (Nature). This thought has been around for many years as people as Galileo and Francis Bacon used it – but it remains timely today. Lamoureux encourage readers to listen to both books. I was already aware of this concept, so for me, this book reinforces the point.

Dr. Lamoureux also weaves his personal story into the text – his moments of wrestling with science and faith. His journey from Christianity to Atheism to 7-day Creationist to theistic evolutionist is interesting in itself. Because of his experiences, he knows the trials and tribulations people face while understanding the source of their angst. Yet, in this text, I felt him encouraging others.

Because of his involvement with the opposing ends of this topic’s spectrum, Lamoureux knows that the opposing ends force people to make a choice. Therefore, he includes the important concept of dichotomous decisions throughout the text; as well as the effects of forced choices as causing some to lose their faith or not follow a personal dream of a science career – especially in biology.

Along his personal journey, Dr. Lamoureux incorporates words from Richard Dawkins (an evolutionary biologist and staunch atheist), Michael Behe (a biochemist and important Intelligent Design Theory advocate), Charles Darwin, and Scripture. It’s through those interactions that Lamoureux helps readers understand the issues and rationale behind different viewpoints.

Dr. Lamoureux’s passions are apparent in the text. His passion about the interchange. His passion about science. His passion as a Christian – and through these passions he shines a light on the path for those who want to know how to harmonize religion and science without compromising personal faith.

As a university professor, Dr. Lamoureux’s students are at many positions on the continuum of religion and science – especially regarding evolution. Not only does he weave some his encounters along the way, he dedicates an entire chapter (the last one) to various discussions with students. This was priceless for me.

Readers should be aware that Dr. Lamoureux’s view of intelligent design is different than Behe’s Intelligent Design Theory. Although I understand and agree with his point, the natural similarity of the wordings bothered me for some reason. On the other hand, I am over that minor discomfort.

Evolution: Scripture and Nature Say Yes! is an excellent book for those who struggle with a literal Genesis and evolution. It’s also an excellent read for those who do not struggle because it provides reasons they may not know. Lamoureux’s words are rooted in an unwavering belief in the two books that successfully intertwine science and religion.

Two sidebars
Somewhere in the book I noticed that Dr. Lamoureux did a TEDx Talk, so I watched. I recommend this 14-minute lecture because it is a mini-version of this book. Besides, Dr. Lamoureux is also a good speaker. His lecture is below.

After reading the book and watching the lecture, I emailed Dr. Lamoureux. Not only did I appreciate that he took the time to respond, but we also engaged in dialogue, He also gave me additional resources. All of which I am grateful.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 238

On Politics

From WordPress

From WordPress … but I will vote on Tuesday

I encourage those in US states with Congressional races to use the three fact checkers I provide on the sidebar (under Resources): Annenberg FactCheck, PolitiFact, and The Fact Checker (@Washington Post). , ,

On the topic of fact checks, one of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) ads mentions a factcheck regarding his opponent. Interestingly, Sen. McConnell’s has claims don’t clear the same bar.

Not surprisingly to me, the Cincinnati Enquirer endorsed Sen. McConnell for the contested Senate seat. However, and sad to say, the last sentence in the endorsement caused me to laugh: We (the editorial board) just hope that, if re-elected, McConnell will remember that’s it’s Kentuckians first – not his party – whom he answers to first.

I find this scenario interesting: What if the Republicans gain control of the Senate, but their leader loses his re-election?

Mitt Romney says a GOP-controlled Senate would end gridlock in Washington. Sorry Mitt, I disagree. Did your Civics class leave out the White House’s role in legislation?

Last week I asked instead of disposing all four of the top Congressional leaders (Reid, McConnell, Boehner, Pelosi), and if you could keep just one, who would it be? … and who do you think I would keep. Surprise … for me it would be John Boehner (R-OH). Although he has to deal with a difficult caucus within his own party, as an individual, I believe he would be the one most willing to make a deal.

To lead you into this week’s headlines from The Onion, here a few about next week’s election:

  • Midterm candidates distancing themselves from the United States
  • 45-year-old to help candidate understand the youth vote
  • Traumatized nation terrified to make its voice heard in another election

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Two-year old never thought he would see the Giants win the World Series
Man’s heart stops as speaker asks audience to turn to person next to them
Four angels banished from heaven for attempting to unionize
Antidepressant can’t believe it’s expected it’s expected to fix this mess all on its own
Crowd outside White House hoping to catch glimpse of President naked

Bonus Graphic: How Ebola Quarantine Works

Interesting Reads
Shift college programs to 3 years?
Media habits of the partisans …. (and something I wrote in January 2009)
Keyless cars and thieves
Neil Young: Musician, artist, and painter
Denying science in politics
Interactive: Henry Hudson on the Hudson

On Potpourri
Happy Halloween. Here’s an interesting read wondering if adults have hijacked Halloween.

Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants for winning baseball’s World Series … and special congrats to their fans who visit here that I know love their Giants … especially Lame and Amy.

Pope Francis’ support (this week) for science regarding evolution and creation not only does not surprise me, but it continues a trend going back to Pope Pius XII. Regardless the clamor of the noisy cranks, there is no question in my mind that when measured along denominational lines, this is the predominant view among Christians. Even in that light, much of the Atheist community is not willing to join in partnership against the conservative agenda of placing God-driven creationism based on Genesis in public schools.

To go along with the previous comment, I’ve been saving this one from Pew Research about attitudes about evolution by political party.

Dr. John Walton is a professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College. (I loved his book about Genesis that I reviewed here.) Recently, I read this worthy essay about right vs. wrong … and I think agree vs. disagree is also valid.

I continue to find a wonderful interest in Cynthia’s poems, Her audio versions add to my experience because she has an outstanding cadence. If you visit and comment, tell her I sent you … and a special thanks to Mary for directing me to Cynthia.

Lauren Hill, the college freshman from the Cincinnati area with an inoperable brain, is expected not to see 2016, yet this Sunday she will get her dream of playing in a college basketball game. It seems that various cable stations will be broadcasting the game in different parts of the country. I’m curious if this makes the local news (television, radio, or newspaper) in your area … so let me know. Here’s an article about her. PS: I’ve learned that she will be in the starting lineup, plus the last player introduced.

Cheers to everyone’s effort in yesterday’s Act 11 of Life: The Musical. In the history of musicals here, readers provided many songs that I didn’t know … and as one who appreciates a wide-variety of music, I say Many thanks!

This blog hit the 200,000 hits mark late Wednesday morning. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the rollover, but my guess the celebratory moment occurred sometime between 11:40-11:55 AM (Eastern US).

No Saturday Morning Cartoon this week because tomorrow is a special day! Do you remember why?

Your weekend celebrations

  • (Weekend) Punkin Chunkin Champtionships (Video to learn about it)
  • (Fri) Happy Halloween!, Knock-Knock Jokes Day, Caramel Apples Day, Books for Treats Day, Day of the Seven Billion, Frankenstein Friday, Girl Scout Founder’s Day, Bandana Day, Breadsticks Day, Magic Day, Scare a Friend Day
  • (Sat) Fried Clams Day, Extra Mile Day, Give Up Your Shoulds Day, Sadie Hawkins Day, Games Day. Authors’ Day, Family Caregivers Day. Family Literacy Day, Go Cook for Your Pets Day, Prime Meridian Day, Kite Day, Games Day
  • (Sun) Deviled Eggs Day, Cookie Monster Day, Plan Your Epitaph Day, Zero Tasking Day, Name Your Car Day, Look for Circles Day

Here’s another 2-fer to send you into the weekend. With Saturday being Sadie Hawkins Day, the first takes you back to 1959 with Stubby Kaye in Lil Abner. If musicals of that era aren’t your thing, you are only going back to 1980 for Turn It On Again (Genesis). Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Clarifying Science

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Did you know …. 

Science is not an opinion.

Science is not democratic.

Science is not an ideology.

Science is not a theology.

Science is not a belief system.

Science is not a theory.

Science is not a political view.

Science is not a trend.

But ….

Science is a human endeavor.

Science is a way of knowing.

Science is impersonal.

Science is limited to the human perspective.

Science is a methodology.

Science involves verifying.

Science finds patterns and connections.

Science is a search for explanations of what we observe in nature.

Think about it – Disagreement around scientific topics is common in our lives. Whether it be evolution, climate change, vaccines deforestation, energy resources, or environmental standards (to name a few), a sizable number of people reject aspects of science for a variety of reasons – especially political, theological, and/or other ideological views … all reasons that are not science.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 229

On Politics
Interesting how members of Congress are quick to criticize President Obama’s funding request for the Central American children at the border, yet providing zero funding solutions.

Boo to Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledging Nincompoop’s call for impeachment

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) represents a district just northwest of Cincinnati, so we much news about him. This week he had a guest column in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Not only did I not read it, I did not link it here.

Although partisan, I enjoyed this piece regarding the race for governor in Kansas, in which a current poll shows the Democratic challenger leading by 6% in a very Republican state.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Beard husks on sidewalk indicates start of hipster molting season
Man needs verbal assurance that hand stamp will get him back in
Study finds humans only animals capable of recognizing former self in mirror
Giant 6-year old devastates local ant community
Deadly super rainbow tears through West Coast
Putting ice cream in bowl momentarily considered

Interesting Reads
Columnist Dana Milbank on ADD politics
A disconnect between job requirements and worker skills
Brain Codes
General Patton motivational posters
Rise and fall of WW II’s Desert Fox
Cold Comfort: Granita

On Potpourri
Cheers to everyone for excellent participation in Life: The Musical – Act 7 (School). I hope to stage the next act in two weeks.

Friday is Nelson Mandela International Day, so I hope you watch this short tribute.

The Faraday Institute gives one-minute video to stimulate thought

I have a graduate school degree from the University of Cincinnati. A recent alumni magazine provided two sets of images readers to enjoy.

Your weekend celebrations

  • (Fri) Caviar Day, Nelson Mandela International Day, Stick Out Your Tongue Day, Cow Appreciation Day, Sidewalk Frying Day
  • (Sat) Celebration of the Horse Day, Toss Away the Could-Haves and Should-Haves Day, Hot Dog Day, Ugly Truck Day, Woodie Wagon Day, Ride a Motorcycle to Work Day
  • (Sun) Lake Superior Day, Moon Day, Ice Cream Day, Lollipop Day, Space Exploration Day, Hammock Day, Jump Day, Vanilla Ice Cream Day, Ice Cream Sundae Day, Ice Cream Soda Day, Daiquiri Day, Fortune Cookie Day, Nap Day

Another Saturday Morning Classic Cartoons is ready for Saturday!

To send you into the weekend, I’m following the theme of the latest act of Life: The Musical. Enjoy 38 Special’s Teacher, Teacher. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.